As video games are becoming more of a mainstream source of entertainment for everyone, we see more people being familiar with the occupations of many characters. From the Italian plumber who is tasked with saving an entire kingdom, to an engineer who could build and maintain sophisticated structures, video game characters could do it all and we sometimes fantasize about how cool it would be to do what they do. But how much of those depictions are real, and how much is fiction?

I thought that it would be amusing to write about real life professions and how video games depict them. This Top Ten is dedicated to comparing certain real life professions with their video game depictions.

The Harvest Moon series romanticizes the job and life of a farmer. The basic premise of the series is that the player is always a farmer who just happens to inherit a farm that has been left behind by someone else. The player is allowed to raise a variety of crops and livestock given the resources that he (or sometimes she) has on hand. Besides raising crops and livestock, the player can also pick up other means to acquire money by fishing, mining and foraging. Time management is crucial for the farm’s work, but there’s also the other important relationship aspect that the series is known for. Each game has its cast of potential mates that the player could build a relationship with. Every day, the locals would be scattered around town and the player could interact with them to build relationships with each other based off of mutual interests, activities, and favors. If the player players the cards right, the main character will be able to marry the love interest and even have a child.

Farmers in real life would have to manage a spacious amount of crops and livestock day in and day out. Farmers today aren’t just taught by their families, but schools offer agricultural programs as well. Farmers also have to have business skills too for the managerial side of the farming business. The average size of the farm can be hundreds of acres depending on the state, and it consists of multiple silos, barns and sheds with the territory. Modern farmers have the luxury of utilizing machines that could make the day to day processes more efficient and faster, but the workload could still be a burden. The average farmer will work 55 to 60 hours a week depending on how busy it is to tend the farm. With all that time being spent on working, the farmer will be less likely to go into town and mingle with the people there on his or her free time, and would more likely only go into town to distribute the finished products.

So outside of Harvest Moon’s cartoony world where characters interact with speech bubbles and virtual livestock and plants grow, real life farming could be hard work.

The Cooking Mama series let the players make a variety of different dishes under the tutelage of a cartoony woman with an oversized head and pair of eyes. She’s show you all the ropes for preparing food by presenting recipes for you to prepare yourself and guides you through them. You’ll be primarily using your stylus to employ cooking techniques such as cutting, dicing, slicing, or whatever to prepare your food. At the end of each session, Mama will judge how you did on your cooking. If she is pleased, you’ll be rewarded with a cheerful Mama who praises you; if you mess up, she’ll show a furious look in her eyes, but she’ll also give you the reassuring line of “Don’t worry, Mama will fix it!” to remind you that Mama is ok with you no matter how much you screw up. This simple and cute series shows kids that cooking could be fun, but how does it prepare them to take a job as an actual cook?

First, there’s a difference between being a Chef and a Cook: Chefs create their own dishes, and Cooks just follow the recipes with little or no creative control. Line Cooks are the bread and butter of any restaurant, be it fast food or formal, and they pull in all the stops to make sure that the food are cooked the right way and delivered to the customer on a timely basis. If you have been to a restaurant before, and especially have worked in the kitchen, you’ll know how hectic the job could be during the busier hours. You’ll have to work early to prep before the restaurant opens, stand for hours preparing food, and make as little mistakes as possible. If you mess up, Mama won’t be there to fix the dish nor would she be there to fix you another job when you lose your job as a Cook.

Behind the smiles and the hand holding that Cooking Mama provides you for becoming a Cook yourself, you may find the actual experience to be less cute and cartoony but instead more drenched in sweat and condiments. But from my personal experience I find that Cooks typically have quite the dedication when it comes to their jobs, especially in the more prestigious restaurants.

Tapper is an arcade game that lets you assume the fast paced job of a cartoony bartender. His responsibilities includes filling up beer glasses with the elixir of life (a.k.a beer) and then sending them down the aisles of bar counters for the beer to be greeted by the patrons. His only worries are preventing beer glasses from crashing to the ground and also trying to prevent from being thrown out of the bar when the patrons reach the end of the line. All in all, it’s a pretty sweet job with added benefits like having free beer and also dancing women for each tip that you collect.

Now let’s see how bartending is in real life. To even begin to think about being a bartender, you’ll most likely have to first enroll yourself in Bartending School for at least a week to get your license. There, you’ll learn bartending techniques as well as essentials like what’s the difference between “liquor” and “liqueur” (hint: it’s not just the pronunciation). Once you have the job, prepare to work a lot of sporadic hours as well as on holidays. You’ll be pouring drinks like a mad person on your busier hours as well as figuring out how to suck every last penny out of your customers for your tip. Mistakes that range from messing up an order to failure to spot fake IDs could be costly to both you and the bar and you cannot afford to have them. Then there’s the occasional drunkard who could be hazardous to your bar, and that person would be your responsibility to call in a cab or perhaps even an ambulance. On the other hand, bartenders could make fairly good money on good nights, and also some find the social experience to be enjoyable.

Having a bartending job in real life is like having the fast paced work from Tapper but with more of the risks and perhaps more of the fun. Still, initiating dancing women after each tip that you collect would make the job even more enticing.

Frank West the photojournalist received an opportunity for the scoop of a lifetime that leads him into a town that was sealed off by the military. Frank gives himself 72 hours to investigate a mall that has been overrun by zombies, and complete case files to discover the cause of the outbreak as well as rescue any remaining human hostages that are trapped inside. For those 72 hours it will just be him, the hostages, the zombies, and hundreds of usable items that could be improvised into weaponry dispersed around the mall. That sounds quite exciting for a job like that, but how does it compare to real life?

An aspiring photojournalist would first have to acquire either a Bachelors in Photojournalism. There are photojournalists that work at major publications, but more than half of photojournalists are freelancers. While some photojournalists stay with local events, others do have the opportunity to travel and live around the world. The job, however, does carry some risk when it entails a photojournalist to travel inside particularly dangerous areas to take photos. Particularly in hostile and unsafe territories like Afghanistan or wherever riots are being held in Canada because of a hockey match. Going into harm’s way is often a necessity to capture some of the rare and valuable photos that we as viewers could only witness from within comfort, but photojournalists had the opportunities to witness them in person. The pay varies a lot depending on how you work and who you work for, and most photojournalists do things on the side like video and editing to supplement their pay. Nevertheless, it’s a field that you’ll possibly like if you like photography, traveling, and sharing your photos.

Frank West shares one thing that is in common with real life photojournalists: the eagerness to take risk in order to take photos in dangerous places. We have not yet seen how innovative real life photojournalists could be when it comes to using items as weapons against zombies. Let’s just hope that they really know how to get us out of trouble when a real zombie apocalypse comes.

In music and rhythm games, you are the musician that could become a virtual virtuoso of many instruments. From DDR to Guitar Hero, the genre tests your timing, rhythm keeping, and memory through series of different types of player interactions that depends on the game. The games could let even the least musically talented person have fun playing them, but what if one wants to pursue a career as a musician?

Practically anyone could be called a musician as long as they know how to play an instrument, but to consider being one for a career choice is a different matter. If you’re considering fine music, those require at least a Bachelor’s in fine arts or music. If you want to play popular music, your only qualification is being able to play an instrument good enough to not sound like a dying animal. Starting young and practicing often are the keys to becoming a talented musician. That’s why if you’re now considering to becoming one, you’ll thank your parents for those “useless” music lessons that they forced you to go through. Developing talent, technique, discipline, and especially perseverance are necessities for musicians. Perseverance is perhaps the most important because a musician’s job could be hard work. Musicians could find work anywhere from concert halls to churches, but finding full time employment is rare unless you’re a street performing hobo.

What if you want to make it big? The music industry is also a business that is looking to make money, and they do that by recruiting those who possess the talent and image needed to sell extraordinarily well. Companies nowadays don’t just hand out million dollar recording deals anymore because of the Digital Age. Albums are the primary income for record labels, and they aren’t selling as well recently due to digital distribution of music and piracy, among other things. That means that the industry has to make low cost, high value signings to stay afloat. It doesn’t make it impossible still if you are talented, charismatic, and know how to build networks and market yourself. It is just that you’ll have to do it better than anyone else and/or be lucky.

Music can be enjoyed as hobby, but having it as a profession could sometimes be difficult, let alone make it big. But some have managed to find a middle ground and make a decent living off of it.

She is the main character of a widely successful series, has six Guinness World Records under her belt, and has been portrayed by different models as well as having two live action movies with Angelina Jolie. If I haven’t mentioned the breasts yet, then few would have guessed that I was talking about Lara Croft besides looking at the entry title. The Tomb Raider series paints archeologist Lara Croft as a lively and exciting character who goes on world class adventures.

Lara Croft lives an exciting life as an archeologist. She was raised in an upper class family that showered her with wealth, status and security. Her parents had planned for her to attend at a prominent boarding school in England, but Lara had an adventurous soul that was trapped inside a stiff aristocratic body. The influences of renowned archaeologist Werner von Croy and also a devastating plane crash tapped her inner adventurous spirit, and she then became known as a “Tomb Raider”. Since then, she became a globetrotting archeologist who discovered many hidden artifacts such as the Philosopher’s Stone and the Spear of Destiny through her wit and athleticism. So, how does Lara Croft’s life compare to the life of a real life archeologist?

The primary job duties of real life archeologists are to excavate and study artifacts in order to understand how people have lived in the past. If you like digging in sandboxes as a kid, this job could be perfect for you as the whole world is your sandbox. Archeologists often focus on a specific region of the world, and they sometimes will also live near the research sites. On the research sites, they spend tedious hours meticulously and gingerly excavating the territory in hopes of finding traces of artifacts to study later in the lab. The work is both physically and mentally demanding, and they have endured the challenge with their own natural curiosity and the fact that it’s the job that they have signed up for. The wages are not that great and the person would have to really like the field to get some satisfaction out of it.

The job of being an archeologist doesn’t live up to the fast paced and exciting standards that Tomb Raider presented to us, but there have been some groundbreaking archeological discoveries that happened. To name a few, there was the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb, the tomb of the first Emperor of China, and the Rosetta Stone. Most importantly, archeologists provide the substance of knowledge about our past that we could learn and use to understand how we got here today. In the end, the job is not like how it is in fiction, but it does contribute to our historic knowledge.

I’ll also give a shout out to both Nathan Drake and Professor Layton as well.

Engineers are the backbone for the technological support of an entire team or army. They are armed with the tools necessary to construct, maintain, and create a plethora of technological assets at their organization’s disposal. Whether it is repairing tanks or providing ammo dispensers for the team, their support could alter the outcome of the battle. At times they are could even sabotage and/or convert enemy assets into their own. Perhaps the Engineer’s most recognizable attribute is the ability to create and manage an automatic sentry gun. The sentry gun is considered the Engineer’s best companion out on the field, and it could help to secure the life of the Engineer, the objectives, and his teammates. To make things simple, let’s just dub most of these Engineers as “Mechanical Engineers” for their specific duties. Let’s see how Mechanical Engineers get their titles in real life.

Mechanical Engineers typically need four to five years to get a Bachelor’s degree. After they graduate, they must take a Professional Engineering (PE) licensing test to allow them to be fully recognized as an Engineer. Why not they make it as simple as hitting things with a wrench is beyond me. Mechanical Engineers analyze, design, develop, test and maintain mechanical devices for consumer and industry use. Depending on what job the Mechanical Engineer has, he or she could handle anything related to mechanical motion such as automobiles or medical technology. Some of the work is done on the computer, but the real action happens at the shop or the field where they get hands on with the mechanical devices as well as exchange innuendo jokes about tools. Sentry Guns are used by the Navy to intercept pesky missiles and aircraft. They are also experimenting with land based sentry guns recently, and the South Korean “Super aEgis II” is an example of that. Mechanical Engineers may work as much as 60 hours a week and is compensated at a median of $78 thousand a year.

No matter if Mechanical Engineers are from within a game or doing their job in real life, we could say that they are credit to team.

The Trauma Center series lets the player take the role of a professional surgeon that is tasked with performing surgical procedures for different patients in episodic installments. All of the necessary tools and assistance will be provided for each surgery, and the player uses them to execute surgical procedures with the motion sensing interactivity of the stylus or WiiMote. The player must also battle different strains of highly malicious parasites that are known as “G.U.I.L.T” when they are discovered from within the patient. At the end of each surgical session, the player will be graded based on different aspects of performance. You think that being a surgeon is all fun and games, but how is it compared to being a real life one?

You should get ready for the long haul if you want to become a surgeon. You’ll need four years of college for your pre-med, and four more years at least in Medical School to train for your specific discipline. That’s already eight years of schooling, but you still won’t be fully licensed after school until you pass the exams and also have experience with residency training. Surgeons always have two flavors of patients: the ones that they could have a chat with before the surgery to examine their problems, and the ones that they must be operated on now or it is death for them. Either way, it is a real test of patience, dexterity, and attention to detail for surgeons. They can spend hours huddling around the patient in the operating room to meticulously scrape and pick away at open wounds. Now, think about doing this for 80 hours a week and also be on call for whenever your Bat-Signal shows up (I imagine it to be more like a Red Cross spotlight in the sky). It’s a demanding and stressful job, but surgeons do get compensated with an amazing salary of more than 160 thousand dollars a year and also the satisfaction of being the one that can make a difference in a person’s life.

As a conclusion to this entry, it is interesting to note that with the advent of “Tele Surgery”, the technological ability for surgeons to conduct their surgical procedures from a different physical location than their patients, the new technology may change the field of medicine for perhaps the better. At least, I imagined it be like having an motion sensing device like a stylus or WiiMote to perform operations like in the Trauma Center games.

The Ace Attorney series puts the player in the role of a defense attorney that is tasked with proving that his client is not guilty. The games are presented in different segments as cases to solve. The attorney must investigate key places for evidence and cross-examine them to gather clues. Sometimes certain information could even be locked from within other characters, and that’s when it’s appropriate to utilize options like the “Psych-Lock” to probe them. There will be two or three allowed days to gather evidence and formulate the plan before the trial. Most of the trial will consist of testimonies from the witnesses and it is up to the attorney to read between the lines. The attorney must present his case, but also must appropriately take action against the contrary by shouting lines like the famous “OBJECTION!” The ultimate goal is to prove that your client is innocent. Failure to do so will force the player back to the last save.

In real life, laws are a burdensome part of society that are often frustrating and time consuming to understand. That’s why we have attorneys: the people with knowledge of the law that will represent you in exchange for an arm and a leg. The aspiring attorney will have to acquire a Bachelor’s, finish three years of law school, and pass a Bar Exam where you’ll have to drink with the exam proctor to qualify. No, unfortunately Bar Exams are not about drinking but is more of a written exam. Once you have your license, you’ll be some other experienced attorney’s associate for several years being partners in legal crime. You’ll be spending irregular hours at the job meeting and talking with clients, as well as spending tons of time at sites to probe for evidence to build on the case for the trial. The courtroom pressure could be exhausting for some, and even hardened attorneys could be emotionally, mentally, and physically tired at the end. Perhaps the most conflicting thing about being a lawyer is representing your client’s interests even if you don’t agree with them. There are also exploitive criminals who use the law to get the good people into jail while manipulating attorneys to defend them, no matter if it is in real life or in fiction like “Law Abiding Citizen”.

Being an attorney might give you crap, but there are some gems underneath the crap: a good salary, lots of options for work including owning your own practice, being challenged intellectually, and sometimes helping genuine people.

Max Payne is an undercover detective that is all around badass. The game revolves around him fighting crime by solving cases and giving criminals the business end of his weapons. He takes an unorthodox approach to crime fighting and prefers to be more dynamic in order to get things done, even when he has to break several laws himself to do so. He is armed with an arsenal of weapons: pistols, shotguns, and more. But as well armed as he is, his desire for revenge is perhaps his deadliest weapon. Revenge helped him with the motivation to take down some of the in game universe’s biggest criminals, including a crime family and even a whole drug business. Max Payne may make the job look glamorous (in a violent action movie sort of way), but does his job reflect the work of an actual detective?

Some detectives may start out as a cop for their agency and would be promoted after gathering experience, while some detectives are made through on the job training and/or through academic programs. Detectives have a broad spectrum of tasks that ranges from investigating thefts to homicides. But unlike the fast paced, violent means of solving those cases like Max Payne would, detectives usually conduct their work from behind a desk. They are less about shooting people through “bullet time” on the field, and more about using their pens as weapons to dish out justice on piles of paperwork. The field work that they do consists of interviewing people and spying on the suspects for evidence. Basically, it’s like being a licensed stalker that some folks on the internet would love to have as a job. Although most of the work is from behind the scenes, the job could be stressful and still carry some potential risks.

Overall, if you like problem solving and don’t mind getting into others’ business to get things done, so then being a detective is a career choice for those who want to go into criminal justice. It’s not as action filled as depicted on Max Payne, but detectives still does contribute a part to society by protecting citizens and prosecuting criminals.


Thank you for reading my Top Ten. If you have any comments and/or suggestions, PM me or visit me on these following boards: Top Ten, Random Insanity, and Current Events.

This Top Ten was written with the help of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, Youtube, and good old Google. It also drew some of its inspiration for the topic from Arkrex's 2008 list.

Honorable Mentions:

Dr. Mario: Physician/General Practitioner.
Final Fantasy series: Aerospace Engineer
Alan Wake: Novelist
Nascar games: Auto Racer
WWE games: Wrestler
Sports games (FIFA, MLB: the game, etc): Athlete
PaperBoy: Paper Boy
Half Life: Theoretical Physicist
Sim City: Municipal planner
Super Mario series: Plumber*

*I have decided to exclude this because he doesn’t actually do his job as a plumber throughout the games. This still goes on the honorable mentions, however, due to it being part of Mario’s image.

List by highwind07 (04/25/2013)

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